by Megan

I wouldn’t have an issue with feral cats in the neighborhood. I often see cats, but believe them to be strays that were once pets. They are not human friendly though – so I am uncertain. But my main worry for feral cats is that there are cruel people who will harm them.

Pipkin was a cat I’d see around from time to time. I came to believe that she had been a pet that had been abandoned as she was very loving and affectionate once she saw I was not to fear.

At first I thought perhaps she was a pet that was allowed outside, but she was quite thin – so of course, I fed her. She often spent time on our porch and ate all of the cat food I would give.

I asked everyone I knew if they wanted her, but there were no takers. She was a wonderful new friend who, after 2 months of this, my husband allowed me to adopt :). We kept her separate from our 3 other cats for the week before her vet appointment. I was so excited at the prospect of adopting her and giving her a forever home, often talking to her about how much fun we were going to have together, and how happy I was that she came into my life. I also thought that this could help to lessen the possibility of homeless, or feral I suppose, cats, as she would not be having kittens if she was with me.

Unfortunately, Pipkin tested positive for feline leukemia. This is something I have never had to deal with, as our other 3 rescues were healthy. Imagine my devastation when the vet told me that she was also incredibly contagious, and could never be allowed around my other pets. In addition, depending on how far the disease was, she may not live very long, and that when her condition worsened, it would indeed be incredibly painful for her.

I knew that I could not simply return her to the streets, as she would be contagious to those other cats in the area – pets, feral and strays alike – and with convincing from the vet, made the devastating decision to have her put to sleep. I contemplated trying to find her a home with someone who took in cats with leukemia, but the vet convinced me that that may be a long journey – and I didn’t have anywhere to keep her in the meantime. I think that if I were faced with this decision again, I would react differently.

At that time I knew nothing about feline leukemia, and made my decision out of fear and ignorance. If I were faced with this situation in the future, I would try first to find a home for her. But at the time, I had already tried to find her a home, without luck – and that was when I assumed she was healthy.

Pipkin is the first pet I have ever had to have put to sleep. I rocked her, sobbing, in the room at the vets, apologizing that I couldn’t help her. I am, to this day, devastated by that loss – my loss of her, and what I imagine to be her loss of a carefree, comfortable life.

I don’t mind cats that are outside – feral or otherwise. They are beautiful creatures and I love them. But in cases like this, where the devastation of disease – especially those as contagious as feline leukemia – is a serious threat, I will forever worry about any animals that are in danger of catching it and not having any hope of prevention and care.


Pipkin to Feral Cats

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Jun 03, 2010 You did the right thing
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

Even though you are feeling badly about it, you actually did the right thing. Even if you had found her a home, she still would have suffered because of her disease. When people try to keep animals alive who need to be released from their suffering, they do it for themselves, not for the benefit of the animal. I have some friends who routinely do this with their pets– their dog was almost 18 and in pitiful shape. He would have long before that point, in nature, have simply laid down and went to sleep. But he was so obviously staying alive for them. He would quit eating and they’d encourage him to eat, which he would do to please them. He was in such pain. For the last few months his tail never wagged anymore and he had vestibular problems where he couldn’t even hold his head straight or walk very well. What they did, by refusing to do the necessary kind thing, was terrible. What you did was the kind, right thing– even though it doesn’t feel like it. Everything dies, there is always an end eventually. We may not want that, but it is inevitable. Your kitty would have suffered more, in a life already heavy with suffering. As others have said, she died peacefully, being loved. That is infinitely better than stretching out her suffering and possibly during that time infecting other animals.

May 28, 2010 You did the kindest but saddest thing
by: Tracey (England)

You are sensitive and thoughtful and you did so much for Pipkin.

You saved her from a slow painful death on the streets where she would have been vulnerable and scared.

She died in your arms safe and warm. You did something that no cat lover ever wants to do but sometimes we have to because we don’t want our beloved pet to suffer.

You are loving and caring so please please stop beating yourself up and focus on the next unfortunate waif thats sure to stray your way.

May 28, 2010 Much more than anybody had done
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Megan. You have nothing to blame yourself, actually you did more for this poor cat than many would have done. And obviously much more than anybody had ever done for her…
I think many here will agree that when we have had to put an old cat friend to sleep, afterwards the thought arises that maybe we could have done things differently, maybe we could have found another way, another treatment etc. That is ‘What if’ thinking and most often it doesn’t help us understand the situation any better.
You made your decision based on the knowledge you had at the time and also from professional advice. Pipkin’s story had deserved a better ending, but the main thing is still the love and care you offered her during the last weeks of her short life. Thank you for that.

May 27, 2010 Pipkin
by: Ruth

Megan I’m so sorry for your sadness.You did the kindest thing you could, I don’t think the vet would have advised putting her to sleep if he thought she’d not have problems from her illness. She would be in very poor condition having lived on the streets and I think it wouid have been very difficult to find her a home.
Try to think that you saved her from starvation and you saved her from dying without knowing any love and attention.
She is at peace now,think of that.
Take care

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

May 26, 2010 Sadness
by: Michael

Thank you Megan for telling the story of Pipkin. Although it brought a tear to my eye. I felt for the sadness.

Michael Avatar

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